Out of the ordinary/extraordinary
Contemporary Japanese photography

03.06.2005 to 14.08.2005

In the "Raum für Neue Kunst" and "Sonderausstellungsraum"

Organised by the Museum for East Asian Art in co-operation with the Japanese Institut of Culture Cologne and The Japan Foundation

The exhibition was arranged by Kasahara Michiko, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and shows recent work of eleven Japanese photographers of different generations: the oldest photographer was born in 1942, the youngest in 1977. All of them are unified by a central concern - the critical consideration of present Japanese society - but the techniques used vary from expressive realism and collages to disguised alienation and digitally edited images.

The topics brought up for discussion cover many issues of contemporary concern: the role of the women in Japanese society, gender identities, brutality in youth culture, the anonymous life in large cities, the everyday life experience of Korean immigrants, the Iraq war and the construction of historical memory in the picture media.

The prominent debate over the role of women, and the powerful internal attitudes underlying the different viewpoints for example, has encouraged photographers to expose the stereotypes and contradictions and so initiate a fresh dialogue about Japanese culture and its development. Okada Hiroko's (born 1970) ironical visionary documentation of pregnancies in men belongs to this group, as does Sawada Tomoko's (born 1977) social self portraits in which the self is defined by clothes - provocatively as 'hip fashion girl' or conventionally as a participant in an arranged marriage. Ishiuchi Miyako (born 1947), by contrast, takes a very personal view of attitudes towards women with her series, entitled 'Mother', on older female bodies. The presentation in Berlin is supplemented by an experimental video work by the group 'invisible guards'.